Green Revolution: The Future Prospects

It is important for you to note that green Revolution started in the 1960’s centred around the usage of semi-dwarf high yielding varieties responsive to irrigation and chemical fertilisers produced good outcomes in giving a big boost to the production of wheat in the initial stage and the production of rice in the subsequent stage. But more currently, it has been felt that high yielding varieties have attained a plateau and the scope for future increase in production seems to be very restricted. In other words, the seed-water-fertilizer technology has possibly exhausted its potential and is at present at a point of diminishing returns.

The Planning Commission put a target of food grains production of the order of 300 million tonnes by 2007-08 but the real production was 216 million tonnes.

Future Prospects

It is important to note that scientists in India have been attempting to develop hybrid varieties of rice and wheat so that the yield barrier functioning at present can be broken. In the instance of rice, on-farm-trials of hybrid rice in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been discovered to yield an average of 6.8 tonnes per hectare as against 5.2 tonnes attained from traditional pure-line rice varieties. This amounts to an extra yield of 31 per cent viz., 1.6 tonnes per hectare. In some instances, hybrid rice yield is even greater by 35 to 44 per cent than the traditional varieties. In other words, gains from hybrid rice have been assessed to be 1.5 to 1.75 tonnes per hectare. In spite of success at on-farm trials, India has been able to attain only 0.15 million hectares under hybrid rice as against the target of 2 million hectares by the year 2000.

The following factors are accountable for the slow progress:

(a) Since the extra seed costs for hybrid seeds are of the order of Rs. 1,500 per hectare, the yield gain has returns to the farmer. As a result, the farmers have not felt inspired about the use of hybrid rice.

(b) The existence of an aroma and stickiness in the hybrid-rice grain has not been able to make it acceptable to the consumers, especially in South India. Consequently, hybrid rice fetches lower prices, which again generates an unfavourable influence on the rate of return to farmers.

(c) Hybrid rice is also said to be more vulnerable to pests and diseases.

As per Mr Harish Damodaran, China is “the only country that has so far actually managed to adopt hybrid technology in any important way. Over 50 per cent of China’s 32 million hectares rice area is recently covered under hybrid rice, which also explains for 70 per cent of total rice output. To turn hybrid rice more acceptable to the farmers, China offered seeds to farmers at subsidised prices. Also, the Chinese government offered incentives to hybrid seed growers to diminish costs. China has also standardised its hybrid seed production methods, with seed yields averaging 2.5 tonnes per hectare, against 1 to 1.5 tonnes being attained by experienced breeders in India.

But, the hybrid technology in wheat is still at an initial stage of development and research attempts shall have to be reinforced for quite some time so as to acquire a break-through in the yield barrier.

Mayank Rai

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